Waiting in the Promise
Christmas, already a month out of its wrapping, lingers. Like Hockey, Tax, and Hunting, Christmas is a season unto itself. Every year there is buildup and there is afterglow: lights are still up; scheduling stragglers are still throwing Christmas parties; December’s caloric intake still registers in the callipers. The season is persistent. It will have me fishing balsam fir needles out of unfamiliar corners of our living room until at least Spring Cleaning. Little bits of mental seasonal shrapnel also drift, in slow, protracted confetti-arcs, toward the floor of my mind. These flurried bits and pieces are primarily lines of lyric poetry. Two canonical snippets stay with me throughout the year, reminding and revealing:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
I love these lines for many reasons. For their poetry and food-for-thoughtfulness and their ability to trojan-shoehorn theologically rich concepts into the public arena. I think the most important reason, for my aim in this writing anyway, is that they reinforce the Truth that we are on our way. The experience of redemption unfolding is the human experience, and God has placed us in this context: we are creatures of process inhabiting a liminal space. We sojourn between our genesis and the grand door of the Throne Room. All the while enclosed under His Banner, Love. Both sets of lyrics are promissory notes; they anticipate the coming restoration of all things and implicitly acknowledge the realty of our present situation. In the same way that Christmas is a season that rises, has a marked high point, and then lingers and wanes, so is life. My wedding was top among my handful of best days. However, I’ve sunk from that day’s glory into the humdrum flow of normal days, weeks, life. Was my redemption complete on that day? Was that the culmination of my being, my meaning, my purpose fulfilled, my glory attained? No. It was a great day, but I continue to wait in the promise of an unknowable Glory. One that will wash every previous high place into the sea. It is comforting to know that we are not working toward Eden. But we are being carried there and can rest on the way. We are moving ever forward into our redemption. He is calling all things to himself and is making all things new. It is now. It is almost. It is not yet.
Rejoice! For God is With us.
And is coming to us. And is for us.
Over there. The light is already visible. It is happening now. Here comes the sun.